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Home > Products > Minerals > Iron Oxide


Uses and Information


Iron oxide is a chemical compound that is made of oxygen and iron. Iron is a metallic element that is found in approximately 5% of the Earth's crust. When iron oxidizes, or rusts, colors such as yellow, orange, and red are created. A large amount of iron oxide appears on the planet Mars, which is known as the "Red Planet." Mars appears to be red because its crust is composed mostly of iron oxide.

This compound is commonly known as hematite. It is thought that iron oxide deposits were created by the precipitation of iron from sea water during the Proterozoic Eon, some 1.6 billion years ago. These deposits are found in locations around the world, with the greatest concentrations being in the USA, India,Iran, Australia, China, Brazil, and Russia.

There are three elements that are naturally magnetic: cobalt, nickel, and iron. Among those three, iron is the most magnetic, which is why iron oxide is used extensively in the production of magnets, electronic parts, audio and video cassette tapes, and ATM cards.

In the art world, iron oxide is used to create pigments such as burnt sienna and burnt umber. This method of creating pigments in paint colors has been used since the prehistoric age. The cave paintings at Lascaux are an example of how long this compound has been used in the creation of art.

The cosmetics industry uses iron oxide to create various pigments in make-up. Because it is non-toxic, water repellent, and it does not run or bleed, it is an ideal additive to cosmetics such as mascara, foundation, and eye shadow. There are two different types of compounds used in the cosmetic industry: iron oxide II which has a black pigment, and iron oxide III, which is red.

The different pigments of this compound are used to dye such things as paint, concrete, leather, shoe polish, tiles, and rubber. Brown pigments can range in color from a light brown to a coffee color brown. Red pigmentations range in color from a deep orange to a deep red.

Iron oxide is also added to different nutrients, feeds, and medications. It can be found in certain types of health products, such as talcum powder, facial cream, and body cream. Some sun block products contain iron oxide, which helps block UV rays from damaging human skin.



“What is the difference between Natural and Synthetic Iron Oxides?”

“What is the difference between Natural and Synthetic Iron Oxides?” Three different iron oxide mineral normally is the foundation for all Iron Oxide Pigments. These minerals are as below: 1) Hematite (Red Iron Oxide) 2) Magnetite (Black Iron Oxide) 3) Goethite (Yellow Iron Oxide) These minerals can be produced naturally by geologic activities or can be synthetically produced in chemical reactions. The color of the iron oxide is determined by the size of the individual mineral crystals. Reds - Small Particle/Yellow Cast - Large Particle/Blue Cast Yellows - Small Particle/Green Cast - Large Particle/Red Cast Blacks - Small Particle/Brown Cast - Large Particle/Blue Cast While the mineral iron oxide in both “Naturals” and “Synthetics” is similar, Natural Iron Oxide contains contaminants which often reduce their color strength in comparison with their Synthetic ones. These contaminants include two types: those with coloring features and some that act as an extender. The coloring contaminants are most often Manganite, Manganese(II) oxide, which gives the Umbers their dark colored masstones. The non-coloring contaminants are most often natural extenders used in industry as industrial fillers, including Baryte, Talcum, and Calcium carbonates.